UFC tightens gambling rules, hires integrity firm

MMA news

On Thursday, the UFC announced the addition of stricter language about wagering in its fighter code of conduct as well as the hiring of sports wagering monitoring firm U.S. Integrity.

The two changes come as multiple governmental bodies are investigating a UFC fight between Darrick Minner and Shayilan Nuerdanbieke on Nov. 5 that attracted suspicious betting patterns. Multiple sources have told ESPN that the FBI has been collecting information and interviewing people about the fight.

UFC chief business officer Hunter Campbell wrote to fighters and teams in a memo Thursday that the promotion “expressly prohibits” UFC fighters from betting on UFC fights themselves or through a proxy. “UFC Insiders,” a designation that includes an athlete’s coaches, managers, handlers, athletic trainers and “other individuals affiliated with the athletes or the UFC,” are also prohibited from wagering on UFC fights. Disciplinary action would be taken against the UFC contract athletes if the insiders were to violate the rule. Campbell added that it is the UFC’s “expectation” that any fighter who has knowledge of a violation of these restrictions will immediately notify the UFC.

U.S. Integrity was the first agency to flag and investigate the bout. In its statement Thursday, the UFC said U.S. Integrity was an agency “capable of identifying and analyzing unusual wagering activity as indicative of possible integrity concern.”

New Jersey and New York sportsbooks, as well as offshore bookmakers, reported unusual betting interest on Minner to lose in the first round and for the fight to last under 2½ rounds. He lost by TKO just over a minute into the first round after seemingly suffering a left leg injury.

In the month after the fight, gambling enforcement authorities in New Jersey halted wagering on any events associated with Minner coach James Krause and two Canadian jurisdictions temporarily suspended betting on the UFC.

Alberta overturned its ban last month. On the heels of those two moves, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) on Thursday lifted a ban on UFC betting that had been instituted Dec. 1 after the Nuerdanbieke vs. Minner fight and the “possible betting by UFC insiders.” In a release, the AGCO stated that the UFC has amended its athlete code of conduct, has included “UFC insiders” in its prohibitions, has hired U.S. Integrity and “have provided assurances for enhanced monitoring and action against insider betting through the strengthening of their internal process.”

“In order to protect the betting public, the AGCO’s Registrar’s Standards include rules to safeguard against odds manipulation, match-fixing and other sports betting integrity issues,” the AGCO statement read. “Sport and event betting operators must specifically ensure that sporting events they offer bets on are effectively supervised by a governing body which must, at minimum, prescribe rules and enforce codes of conduct that include prohibitions on betting by insiders. There must also be integrity safeguards in place, which are sufficient to mitigate the risk of match-fixing and other illicit activities that might influence the outcome of bet upon events.”

Krause and Minner have been suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for not disclosing a preexisting leg injury on Minner’s prefight medicals, pending the multiple investigations. Jeff Molina, a UFC flyweight fighter at Krause’s gym Glory MMA & Fitness in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, was also suspended, with Nevada deputy attorney general Joel Bekker saying earlier this week that the move was due to evidence coming to light that Molina might have been involved in a “substantial” way with the “gaming scheme currently under ongoing investigation related to James Krause.”

On Oct. 18, three weeks before the Nuerdanbieke vs. Minner fight, the UFC announced that fighters and their teams were prohibited from wagering on UFC fights. Previously, the UFC had no codified regulations for athletes regarding gambling.

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